The MTA’s New Fare Hike Plan Is Bad For Tourists, Good For Locals

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In October, NYC’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority began debating the best and fairest ways to raise fares in 2013.The latest plan, unofficially revealed today, combines elements of four original proposals.

According to the Daily News, the “hybrid plan” will raise the price of a single ride from $2.25 to $2.50, the 7-day MetroCard from $29 to $30, and the 30-day pass from $104 to $112.

The “bonus” on pay-per-rides will drop from 7 per cent to 5 per cent, so a $20 purchase will come with $1 free, rather than $1.40. It will, however, be available on purchases as low as $5, rather than the current $10.

In light of the fact that a fare hike is not really avoidable — the MTA’s budget needs to raise $450 million from fares and tolls in 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported — that is relatively good news for low-income riders, who cannot afford to buy monthly passes. Two of the four plans proposed in October called for the elimination of the bonus altogether.

The latest plan also spares those who do buy the 30-day cards. One plan suggested raising the price of the 30-day unlimited pass to $125.

Tourists and others who use public transportation only occasionally are less likely to benefit from those bonuses, and so would pick up more of the tab.

Andrew Albert, a nonvoting member of the MTA board, told the Daily News:

It’s the best option in a bad scenario. Ideally, the city and state would give bigger subsidies for mass transit and we wouldn’t have this budget problem. We wouldn’t have to raise fares. But given our subsidies, or lack of subsidies, this takes it easier on a vast majority of our bus and subway customers.

The planned 2013 fare hike, to take effect in March, would be the fourth in five years.

Gene Russianoff, the staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, told the New York Times:

At least this part to me seems to be helping the poorer customers. But a fare hike is a fare hike is a fare hike. You can dress it up, do good things, but at the end, you’re still asking for more money from your customers.

The Straphangers Campaign, a NYPIRG group, argues hikes are unnecessary. It cites a plan by New York State Assemblymember Jim Brennan for a transportation bond referendum that could provide extra funds for the MTA, eliminating the need for fare hikes.